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The essence of a sales career isn't complicated -- good sales people strive to boost profits for their employers and themselves. However, you won't become a great sales person until you learn what motivates the customer, and build on that knowledge to create a personal connection with him. Closing the deal requires focusing on the customer as your conversation unfolds. This builds the mutual trust that's needed to make the sale happen.
Adapt Your Approach
Follow your prospect's behavioral cues and modify your own habits in developing a sales pitch. For example, it's appropriate to talk at a fast pace when your customer does, but not if his manner is formal and reserved, says "Forbes" magazine in its April 2013 article, "The Unexpected Secret to Being a Great Salesperson." Matching your customer's conversational style boosts your ability to connect with her, which is the first step in making a sale.
Focus on Customer Needs
Ask questions to pinpoint a prospect's needs -- but don't roll out your offer until he explains them, advises Len Foley, a sales and management trainer interviewed for "Entrepreneur" magazine's article, "The 10 Laws of Sales Success." Most people won't commit until they see you take an interest in them. Otherwise, they'll tune out if you rush right into your sales pitch. Also, don't give lengthy answers to questions. While it's important to appear knowledgeable, don't overdo it.
Keep Plugging Away
Don't let rejections slow your efforts. About 40 of all prospects say no at least once before they buy anything, states business consultant Marla Tabaka in a May 2013 "Inc." magazine column. Effective sales people understand that most people say no, but keep trying until they hear a different answer. Focus less on emotions and more on the statistical aspect of your work. Even if just one person accepts your offer, it may yield better leads, says Tabaka.
Invite Customers to Act
Keep focusing on your customer as the conversation winds down. Ask what barriers are keeping him from agreeing to use your product or service, then follow with your proposal -- but only after you're confident that those remaining issues are resolved, says Foley. Even at this stage, it's possible to lose a customer's interest if he doesn't see you maintaining a personal rapport with him. Study his behavioral cues as you await his response.
Prepare for outcomes that might generate a sale down the road. Get a prospect's consent to follow up at a better time later, or include her name on your mailing list for periodic updates. Both outcomes allow you a chance to try again. However, don't feel discouraged if a customer asks you not to call again -- she's simply saying your product or service isn't right for her.
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.